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  1. Watt, Michael (Ed.)
    Purpose of Review Outbreaks of tree-killing bark beetles have reached unprecedented levels in conifer forests in the northern hemisphere and are expected to further intensify due to climate change. In parts of Europe, bark beetle outbreaks and efforts to manage them have even triggered social unrests and political instability. These events have increasingly challenged traditional responses to outbreaks, and highlight the need for a more comprehensive management framework. Recent Findings Several synthesis papers on different aspects of bark beetle ecology and management exist. However, our understanding of outbreak drivers and impacts, principles of ecosystem management, governance, and the role of climate change in the dynamics of ecological and social systems has rapidly advanced in recent years. These advances are suggesting a reconsideration of previous management strategies. Summary We synthesize the state of knowledge on drivers and impacts of bark beetle outbreaks in Europe and propose a comprehensive context-dependent framework for their management. We illustrate our ideas for two contrasting societal objectives that represent the end-members of a continuum of forest management goals: wood and biomass production and the conservation of biodiversity and natural processes. For production forests, we propose a management approach addressing economic, social, ecological, infrastructural, and legislative aspectsmore »of bark beetle disturbances. In conservation forests, where non-intervention is the default option, we elaborate under which circumstances an active intervention is necessary, and whether such an intervention is in conflict with the objective to conserve biodiversity. Our approach revises the current management response to bark beetles in Europe and promotes an interdisciplinary social-ecological approach to dealing with disturbances.« less
  2. Abstract

    The mechanistic pathways connecting ocean-atmosphere variability and terrestrial productivity are well-established theoretically, but remain challenging to quantify empirically. Such quantification will greatly improve the assessment and prediction of changes in terrestrial carbon sequestration in response to dynamically induced climatic extremes. The jet stream latitude (JSL) over the North Atlantic-European domain provides a synthetic and robust physical framework that integrates climate variability not accounted for by atmospheric circulation patterns alone. Surface climate impacts of north-south summer JSL displacements are not uniform across Europe, but rather create a northwestern-southeastern dipole in forest productivity and radial-growth anomalies. Summer JSL variability over the eastern North Atlantic-European domain (5-40E) exerts the strongest impact on European beech, inducing anomalies of up to 30% in modelled gross primary productivity and 50% in radial tree growth. The net effects of JSL movements on terrestrial carbon fluxes depend on forest density, carbon stocks, and productivity imbalances across biogeographic regions.

  3. One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges and taxonomic difficulties connected to the species concept definition, the global numbers of species, including those of important and well-studied life forms such as trees, still remain largely unknown. Here, based on global ground-sourced data, we estimate the total tree species richness at global, continental, and biome levels. Our results indicate that there are ∼73,000 tree species globally, among which ∼9,000 tree species are yet to be discovered. Roughly 40% of undiscovered tree species are in South America. Moreover, almost one-third of all tree species to be discovered may be rare, with very low populations and limited spatial distribution (likely in remote tropical lowlands and mountains). These findings highlight the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity to anthropogenic changes in land use and climate, which disproportionately threaten rare species and thus, global tree richness.
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  5. Abstract

    Determining the drivers of shifting forest disturbance rates remains a pressing global change issue. Large‐scale forest dynamics are commonly assumed to be climate driven, but appropriately scaled disturbance histories are rarely available to assess how disturbance legacies alter subsequent disturbance rates and the climate sensitivity of disturbance. We compiled multiple tree ring‐based disturbance histories from primaryPicea abiesforest fragments distributed throughout five European landscapes spanning the Bohemian Forest and the Carpathian Mountains. The regional chronology includes 11,595 tree cores, with ring dates spanning the years 1750–2000, collected from 560 inventory plots in 37 stands distributed across a 1,000 km geographic gradient, amounting to the largest disturbance chronology yet constructed in Europe. Decadal disturbance rates varied significantly through time and declined after 1920, resulting in widespread increases in canopy tree age. Approximately 75% of current canopy area recruited prior to 1900. Long‐term disturbance patterns were compared to an historical drought reconstruction, and further linked to spatial variation in stand structure and contemporary disturbance patterns derived from LANDSAT imagery. Historically, decadal Palmer drought severity index minima corresponded to higher rates of canopy removal. The severity of contemporary disturbances increased with each stand's estimated time since last major disturbance, increased with mean diameter, andmore »declined with increasing within‐stand structural variability. Reconstructed spatial patterns suggest that high small‐scale structural variability has historically acted to reduce large‐scale susceptibility and climate sensitivity of disturbance. Reduced disturbance rates since 1920, a potential legacy of high 19th century disturbance rates, have contributed to a recent region‐wide increase in disturbance susceptibility. Increasingly common high‐severity disturbances throughout primaryPiceaforests of Central Europe should be reinterpreted in light of both legacy effects (resulting in increased susceptibility) and climate change (resulting in increased exposure to extreme events).

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